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Sibanye-Stillwater spends $490 million on third battery-metals transaction

Kitco News

Platinum group metal giant Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW) (NYSE: SBSW) will joint venture with ioneer (ASX: INR) to develop its Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-boron project located in Nevada, USA.

Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin.

ioneer describes Rhyolite Ridge as a large, shallow lithium-boron deposit located close to existing infrastructure. The lithium and boron mineral resource is estimated at 146.5 million metric tonnes, including an ore reserve of 60.0 million metric tonnes, an increase in reserves from the pre-feasibility study of 280%. The company expects to mine and process 63.8 million metric tonnes over the 26-year mine life at an average annual rate of 2.5 million metric tonnes per year.

The executive chair of ioneer is James Calaway, who previously chaired Orocobre.

Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, noted the company's growing presence in the battery materials space.

“This is Sibanye-Stillwater’s second lithium transaction and third transaction in the battery metals sector, which will be essential for the transition to a cleaner future. We are excited to build a long-term relationship with ioneer, who share our vision of facilitating security of lithium supply to the North American markets," said Froneman.

"Rhyolite Ridge is a world-class lithium project and we recognize its strategic value, with the potential to become the largest lithium mine in the US. We look forward to working collaboratively with the ioneer team and leveraging our complementary skills and capabilities to ensure this strategically important, world-class project is delivered, and materially contributes to reducing climate change.”

In July Sibanye-Stillwater acquired Eramet’s Sandouville nickel processing facilities in France for €65 million (US$76.82 million).

In February Sibanye-Stillwater announced an investment of EUR30 million (US$35.46 million), for an approximate 30% equity shareholding into Keliber, the owner of eponymous advanced lithium project, located in the Kaustinen region of Finland.

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